Velvet scoter Facts

Velvet scoter Facts
Velvet scoter, also known as velvet duck, is large sea duck that belongs to the family of ducks. There are 3 subspecies of velvet scoter that can be found in Europe and Asia. Velvet scoter inhabits wooded coastlines, lakes, rivers, estuaries, coniferous forests, tundra and alpine zones. Number of velvet scoters in the wild is drastically reduced due to oil spills, pollution of the sea, increased number of fishing nets in the sea (which induce strangulation of birds), lack of prey (due to increased commercial exploitation of fish and shellfish), habitat destruction (deforestation and drainage of lakes) and diseases (avian influenza). Velvet scoter is on the list of endangered species.
Interesting Velvet scoter Facts:
Velvet scoter can reach 20 to 23 inches in length.
Gender of velvet scoter can be determined based on the color of the plumage. Males are black colored. They have yellow bill with black base and light-colored eyes with white mark below them. Females are covered with brown plumage and have brownish-gray patch on the lateral side of the head. Both males and females have white patch on the wings, hence the nickname "whitewing".
Velvet scoter has large bill and bulky body.
Velvet scoter is diurnal animal (active during the day).
Velvet scoter is an omnivore (it eats both plants and animals). Its diet is based on mollusks, echinoderms, worms, crustaceans, insects and small fish. Leaves and shoots are occasionally on the menu.
Velvet scoter can dive 98 to 131 feet in depth to find food.
Velvet scoter is migratory bird. It travels toward the sea and (occasionally) large inland lakes as soon as breeding season ends.
Velvet scoters gather in large flocks (made of few hundred or few thousand birds) during the molting period (replacement of old feathers which lasts 3 to 4 weeks) and on the wintering grounds.
Natural enemies of velvet scoters are minks and gulls.
Mating season of velvet scoters takes place during the May and June.
Pairs of velvet scoters usually nest solitary or form loose colonies near the colonies of terns, to ensure protection against predators.
Velvet scoters nest in tall grass, usually 328 feet away from the water (they prefer areas with brackish and/or freshwater during the breeding season). Female lays 7 to 9 eggs in the shallow depression in the ground over a period of 10 to 12 days.
Incubation period lasts 27 to 28 days. Chicks are well-developed at birth and able to leave the nest shortly after hatching. They become ready for the independent life at the age of 30 to 40 days, even before they learn to fly (at the age of 50 to 55 days).
Velvet scoters reach sexual maturity at the age of 2 to 3 years.
Velvet scoter can survive around 7 years in the wild.

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